Profile: Bryan Lagos

Personal background
Hello. I'm an engineering type at a company that designs and integrates semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Married, 36 years old 2.2 kids (well ok, two kids -- boy-girl twins, actually) and a home in the suburbs, church every Sunday, yada, yada yada. Quite boring and stable, actually -- just the way I like it.

Do I think that extraterrestrial life exists? Maybe. The truth is, it is purely speculation. People who specialize in this area try to calculate odds, but these calculations are always based on assumptions that are weakly supported at best. Life may exist out there, but it may only be single celled life, or maybe multicellular, but not very intelligent. Or it might be intelligent, but have no interest in developing technology. Right now we don't even know if there are any Earth sized planets out there (which may or may not be a requirement for life)! With just one example (Earth), you simply cannot extrapolate the data in any direction. We need another data point!

The universe is a very, very big place. I doubt that it would be possible to intentionally hurt a race in another solar system (except possibly thru the introduction of some intentional or unintentional biological hazard (i.e. bacterial, since viri are so species specific they could never attack an alien specie's biology)). Even then, alien biologies may be so different, no form of infection may be possible without vast amounts of research or alien cooperation.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
The risks of sending a beacon aimed at having alien civilizations find us seem quite low to me. If somebody wants to do it, that's fine. I just hope that they don't waste my tax dollars on it.

If we were to find an alien civilization, it would make all the news papers. There would be lots of excitment. Philosophers would talk about the dawn of a new age. Then 4 weeks later everything would be back to normal. Other than leaning that they are there, there probably wouldn't be any changes in Earth culture. It might take decades for a signal to travel from Earth to the alien civilization to acknowledge our receipt of their message -- and decades more for them to acknowledge our message. Given this time lag, how long would it take to understand what they have to tell us? Imagine how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn a foreign language, say Japanese, under these conditions? At when learning Japanese, there is a huge base of common points of reference (we have 2 hands, 2 parents, clothing, verbal speech, sense of touch, trees, water, blue sky, love, hate, a will to survive, etc.), but what would an intelligent alien species have in common with us? Them might not have any of these reference points. Would they smell color or sense change in magnetic fields instead of hearing? Have emotional states that we don't have and that we could never understand? The possibilites here are endless -- how do you decribe anger to somebody that has never felt it? Even if they were standing right in front of us, we might never be able to communicate anything between us. We might have absolutely nothing in common on even the most fundamental level.

Or they could look and act just like us, speak perfect English, be right-wing Republicans and want to come visit Earth as part of a religious pilgrimage to visit the birth place of Jesus. Now THAT would really shake things up, wouldn't it!
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